7 Dec 2018

The Elf's Prisoner - Chapter 7

Chapter 7

The trial of Jyslyn
Council Hall, Wildwood, the Sylvan Forest
Kazimier paced in the Council Chambers.  As much as he wanted, needed, to go with Jyslyn to the Central Garden, Matriarch Starpetal had ordered him to wait for her.  There were few people Kazimier wanted to be on the wrong side of, and his own Matriarch was on the top of that list.  The wait, though, was excruciating.  Kazimier couldn't understand why, though.  The dark elf was still a mystery to him.  She was nothing like the tales told of her kind.  The very idea of one of the Accursed atoning for a past wrong threw Kazimier.

At long last, the door to the inner sanctum opened.  Matriarch Starpetal, flanked by her aides, glided out.  "Kazimier, walk with me."

Kazimier fell in step behind the matriarch.  "Is there a decision?"

"Not in here, Kazimier."  She stopped walking to shoo away her aides, then resumed her pace.  The matriarch led her young charge out of the Council Chambers, taking a meandering route through the Hall.  "Kazi, what is your impression of your prisoner?"

Kazimier took time to form his thoughts before answering.  "When I first saw her, she was in need of help.  Since then, her behaviour has been ideal.  If all prisoners were like her, the entire Watch would need to find new jobs."

"Do you believe her, Kazi?"

6 Dec 2018

The Elf's Prisoner - Commentary 6

Jyslyn on trial, in The Elf's Prisoner Chapter 6.

For someone facing a trial with the potential of the death penalty, Jyslyn doesn't seem all that concerned.  While not intended, this does show her intent later.  It worked out for me.  What I was originally thinking is that she knew what the verdict would be and was taking advantage of the last luxuries she'd ever have.  However, the other explanation is that Jyslyn is fully expecting to be put to death and has the calmness of finality.  There's nothing to be done by worrying, panicking, or getting emotional.

Kaleena, though, isn't calm.  Her job is to guard the prisoner and make sure she doesn't escape, with the added, unspoken, order to not let a mob kill Jyslyn before the trial.  Of course, if the prisoner does try to escape, Kaleena would have to do all she can to stop her, even if it means killing Jyslyn.  Given where Jyslyn is from, setting up Kaleena to do the Council's dirty work is an obvious ploy.  Kaleena, though, is a professional.  She can see that Jyslyn doesn't want to escape.

I managed to get a better look of Wildwood in.  Again, I wanted the elven city to be different, something that reflects elven culture.  Building a city out of a forest, encouraging the growth of the trees to support a population and using magic when needed.  In a fantasy setting, why wouldn't magic be in use in architecture?  I hope that the city feels different.

The Council of Elders is made up of the matriarchs of the clans that live in Wildwood.  It wasn't an idea I had at the start, but having elves base their government on families instead of a singular head of state made sense to me.  The Wildwood Council is a contrast to the Seven Dominions with its one king.  Still, I didn't name six of the clans.  That would have taken time from the actual writing and they weren't important to the story.

Despite the War of Splintering, the dark elves still maintained the clan structure.  A clanless elf is rare and implies that something serious happened to cause the rift.  Jyslyn doesn't even mention her clan's name.  Part of this was that I didn't want to leave the groove I was in while writing the scene.  Technically, I do have a family name for her, but it turned out to be not important.  In fact, not giving her the name helped with building her culture, even as she violated a taboo.

Something that might be noticeable is the length of the chapters.  Unlike Unruly and Mecha Academy, The Elf's Prisoner wasn't written to be a serial.  It's being serialized, a minor difference.  The chapters were allowed to go as long as needed, while a story that's being written as a serial will have parts of equal length, more or less.  Thus, Chapter 6 is noticeably longer than Chapter 5.

Friday, the execution of Jyslyn, in The Elf's Prisoner Chapter 7.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, The Phantom of the Opera.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, Mystery Science .Theatre 3000: The Gauntlet.

30 Nov 2018

NaNo 2018 - The End

NaNoWriMo is over!  Time to breathe and relax!  For everyone who participated, whether you reached 50 000 words, reached a personal goal, or just made it to the end, take a bow.

My official word count is 57 635 as validated by the NaNo site.  That's a little above average for a NaNo project for me.  Considering that I had no idea where the story was going even as I was writing, I'll take it!  Seriously, my approach was to figure out what sounded good, then used that as an intermediate target.  The ghost of a Confederate officer controlling ghouls in order to wreak havok upon the North?  Sure, sounds good.  Zombie Elvii defeated through music?  Beats anything else that I can think of, which wasn't much.  Mermaid attacks in the Middle East?  Works for me!  None of that was even in mind on November 1st.  The mermaid attack only came up last weekend.

What did I have?  Three characters who could argue for several pages as needed.  It's great when there's a conflict between leads.  They do and say all sorts of things that let me mark time until I know what I'm doing.  Heaven's Rejects was completely pantsed, more that The Elf's Prisoner was.  Not that I use outlines normally; only By the Numbers had one, and even that was sparse.  I do try to have a few scenes in mind to aim for while I'm writing, though.  This year?  I knew how to get Nadia and Ian to meet Demona, but that's was it.  That was one chapter.  I finished NaNo at the beginning of Chapter 12.

In terms of writing, my best days were Sundays, during the library write-ins.  Once I got going, I could regularly reach 2000 words in a day, with just a few days where I didn't make that.  The worst was the second day, with 92 words written.  I was out of town for most of the day with no way to write, though I did spend time trying to figure out where I was going.  This year wasn't the first time I had to fight back from a deficit, even that early in the year.

What's next with Heaven's Rejects?  A lot of clean up.  Fix some spelling, fix some grammar, maybe add needed scenes that I couldn't think of at the time.  Maybe adjust the chapters to be more even, since the goal is to serialize the story.  I won't have the problem that dba LTV Paranormalists had with the first arc being a complete mess.  It's a minor clean up instead of a major rewrite.

This was a fun year.  Again, challenging because of life stuff, but I made it!  Yay!

The Elf's Prisoner - Chapter 6

Chapter 6

Kazimier returned home with his prisoner, Jyslyn.
Kazimier's apartment, Wildwood, the Sylvan Forest
Jyslan sank deeper into the tub.  While not the luxury she had in her family's holdings, just getting clean felt sensuous after the hike through the woods.  The tub wasn't long enough for the dark elf to stretch out her legs; her knees poked above the water.  Jyslyn splashed water over them with her left hand, her ink black skin glistening.  Her right hand, though, was chained overhead to a rafter, making bathing a challenge.  Jyslyn didn't fault her guard; if their positions were switched, the dark elf wouldn't have bothered with untying her.

Kaleena hammered on the door.  "Are you finished?" she called.

Jyslyn ran her fngers through her copper red hair, grimacing on feeling the grime in it.  "Will you help me with my hair?"  She wasn't sure if the amusement in her tone would carry through the door or even be appreciated by her guard.

The door slammed open.  Kaleena stormed inside.  "You are done.  Out of the tub."

Jyslyn pulled herself up.  "I need to dry off."  She stepped out of the tub, keeping her back to her guard.

Kaleena hurled a towel at the dark elf.  "The Council is expecting you."

"I could be faster if I had both hands free."  Jyslyn began towelling herself off.

"And if I had wings, I could fly."  Kaleena glowered at the dark elf.  Her expression changed on seeing the blistering skin on the woman's back.  "What happened to you?  I mean, your back."

"I spent too much time under the sun."  Jyslyn finished by drying her legs.  "I am ready to get dressed."

Kaleena handed the dress over to the dark elf.  After a moment, she cursed under her breath.  "Of course they don't send clothes without sleeves."

29 Nov 2018

The Elf's Prisoner - Commentary 5

Back to Wildwood, to catch up with Kazimier and Jyslyn, in The Elf's Prisoner Chapter 5.

One of the benefits of changing over to Nyssa and Leo in Chapters 3 and 4 is that I gave myself time to figure out just what the elven city looked like.  One goal I gave myself while writing the story, beyond just getting to 50 000 words despite having no idea what I was doing, was to make sure that different cultures had different architecture.  The Seven Domains are standard Medieval and Renaissance buildings, with castles, mottes and baileys, wood buildings with narrow, twisty streets, and all that good stuff found in fantasy RPGs.  For the Wildwood elves, I wanted something a different.  So, the city is built in the trees.  It's not all that original; Solace in the Dragonlance setting.  The idea is that the elves are so in tune with nature that they can grow their buildings instead of constructing them.

Of course, that is a lot to work out all at once when I'm building the world as I go.  I worked out the key areas that I'd need - the council chambers, the inn, the gates - and then hoped I didn't need to map the city out.  That's right, no map exists.  Why?  That would take time away from figuring out the plot of the story.  I was already using the BC coastline for the world to save time.  I'd steal an existing city if I needed it.

I also had a rough idea that the Wildwood elves were a matriarchy, though no idea of how it worked.  A Council of Elders felt like a good way to contrast the Seven Dominions hierarchical structure.  The problem with that is now I'd need to figure out who the Elders were, or at least the critical ones.  This is about where I started getting the idea that the dark elves and the Wildwood elves had parallel culture.  Why not, I figured, just happy to have something going.  And, yes, Matriarch Starpetal is related to Kazimier.  The Elders are the heads of the families in the city.

Captain Kaleena Sundew was originally just there to be a senior guard who watched over Jyslyn.  Her role expanded because Jyslyn needed someone to talk to and Kazi was busy.  That tends to happen in my writing.  The Devil You Know is a good example, with several characters, including Mara, intended for just one scene becoming important later.

Kazi's closing line sums up Jyslyn's motives.  She wants to atone for something she did.  Jyslyn is well aware of what she's facing.  Kazi is wise, and knows how people think.  He still gets called out by his great-aunt, though.  Matriarch Starpetal is well aware of who her great-nephew is.

Friday, a stir in the elven city, in The Elf's Prisoner Chapter 6
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, to be determined.

28 Nov 2018

The Elf's Prisoner - Commentary 4

Dame Nyssa and her squire, Leomund, have a little trouble on their way to the Realm Under the Mountain, in The Elf's Prisoner Chapter 4.

I needed a bit of action in here, more to get the word count going than anything else.  It also helped to show how Nyssa and Leomund reacted to a threat.  Nyssa also has a magical sword, one that lets her know when there is danger.  She also protected her squire.  The odds are bad - two against one with Leomund, four against one without - so this is a test of her skill.  Leomund is still in training; he's not really allowed to fight unless Nyssa gives the okay, but some situations mean not listening to orders.  I also got to show the effects of Nyssa's age; she's not as fit as she was in her prime, though there are many in the setting who would love to be as fit as she is.

As a Knight of the Realm, Nyssa is also responsible for enforcing the King's law.  She can choose not to, but she'd have to give a good reason to His Majesty.  This time, she does.  While she hasn't really let His Majesty know what's going on, Nyssa has the leeway to make the decision for him.  Otherwise, she wouldn't be a Knight of the Realm.

Nyssa also believes in the Socratic method, though the world would call it something else.  No Greece, no Socrates.  She wants Leo to figure out what she already knows.  It's a valid teaching method, especially one-on-one.  Leo's there to learn, so he, too, can one day be a Knight of the Realm.

The purpose of the chapter was the action, with some more indication of the nature of the mystery.  Bandits with a fancy axe should be a clue that something's not quite right, especially when they were defeated despite being outnumbered.  I also could show Nyssa when she's not being diplomatic, not that she's the best one to send for that sort of mission.  The poisoning is a set up for getting the two main groups of characters together.

Tomorrow, commentary catch continues!
Friday, a stir in the elven city, in The Elf's Prisoner Chapter 6
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, to be determined.

25 Nov 2018

NaNo 2018 - Week 4

The fourth Sunday of NaNo is done.  I put on a major push and it was worth the effort.  Or, to let music videos speak for me, from Kool and the Gang to Pitbull.  I still need to validate, but that can happen before the 30th.  As long as I don't forget.  The new goal is to get to 750 000 words lifetime.  I'm not far, about 3500 words.

With the word count dealt with, what's next?  Usually, I wind up slowing down after reaching 50k.  This year, though, I have an idea to work on for a couple of days.  With the zombie Elvii now dealt with, that leaves the cast ready for their next mission.  A random idea led to research which is now leading to the Middle East, a great place for a Catholic and a Jew to visit.  I do need to do a bit of research of the area, but the beginnings are there.

The zombie Elvii finally appeared, and then led to three chapters to get rid of them.  And as exciting as fighting zombies looks on screen, there's a point where trying to make the fight interesting while writing just fails.  Fortunately, a bizarre idea entered my head, and I was able to make full use thanks to not knowing what ringtone Demona had.  Unlike Ian and Nadia, who use actual ringing, Demona uses a song clip.  I hadn't named it, but I left a placeholder.  That placeholder can now be replaced with foreshadowing.  I love it when a plan comes together.  I even managed to work in a Demona subplot that was dangling from last week.  Go me!

There's just five days left in NaNoWriMo.  Good luck to everyone participating.  Me, I'll be trying to get a good start on the next chapter to set up my characters, then senf them off to get into trouble.  December 1st, I breathe and not worry about word count, then start fixing the little mistakes that have crept in.

If you want to follow my process, you can check my stats page over the month and see how I'm doing compared to where I should be.